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Calling My Name

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  1,287 ratings  ·  290 reviews
This unforgettable novel tells a universal coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas, and deftly and beautifully explores the universal struggles of growing up, battling family expectations, discovering a sense of self, and finding a unique voice and purpose.

Told in fifty-three short, episodic, moving, and iridescent c
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 24th 2017 by Greenwillow Books
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William Abbott would highly recommend. different than any other YA I've read but in a good way. very lyrical. …morewould highly recommend. different than any other YA I've read but in a good way. very lyrical. (less)
KaShawna Lollis She doesn’t turn away from her faith. She does work through to figure out what her faith means to her. She’s finding faith in many things—faith in chu…moreShe doesn’t turn away from her faith. She does work through to figure out what her faith means to her. She’s finding faith in many things—faith in church, faith in her family, faith in nature, faith in herself. (less)

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Average rating 3.49  · 
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India Brown
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think capturing the essence of being a black Southern girl who loves God is something so specific that you have to experience it firsthand. It’s in the way we love, the way we pray, view nature, are in tune with our bodies and that inner voice. Before reading this book, Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual was the only other thing that captured it for me. Calling My Name is so lyrical, so beautiful and captures that essence so perfectly.

In 53 titled chapters, divided by 8 breaks introduced with quotes fr
Sarah Elizabeth
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

This was a YA contemporary story about a teenage girl called Taja.

Taja was such a normal sort of girl with the normal sort of girl worries. I felt really sorry for her and the way she felt left out compared to her brother and sister, and the way she wasn’t prepared for her first period. She was also subject to a lot of peer pressure.

The storyline in this was about Taja growing up, and her worries over God a
Black-A-Thon: Read a book by a black or African author

I have had Calling My Name since the summer of 2017. I got it as an ARC but never read it because I'm a bad person.

I wanted to read it because I thought the cover was beautiful. Anytime I see I black girl or boy on a book cover I add it to my TBR because its so rare. And yet I still kept putting off reading this for some reason. I wish I could say it was worth the wait but it was just okay. I mean I breezed through this and I didn't hate it
J. Greene
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-favorites
I can hear the voices of some of the greatest African American writers echoing in the voice of

Liara Tamani's debut novel, Calling My Name.

Reading Calling My Name had me reminiscing not only on some of those books I've read, by the aforementioned authors--but reminiscing of my childhood and adolescent years.

I found pieces of my childhood in this story, and it made the story that much more enjoyable for me.

In this coming-of-age tale, Taja Brown, seemingly struggles with her religious beliefs, and
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
UPDATE 12/19/2017
So I am bringing this review down to four stars because I realized what felt off about it: to me, it felt like I was seeing this through glass. It all felt... muffled. Does that make sense? Like, there was something between me and the plot/characters that made it hard to connect.

*still super great though*

Reading Calling My Name was like reading poetry. It was beautiful and carefully written and impacted me in a way I didn't expect it would.

This book has some serious religious
Nikki S
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
African American girl. Growing up IN Houston, Texas?! GIMMIE.


Eh..... Real review to come.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a quietly beautiful book. It's lyrical, soft and easy. It's a story that spans time with only light theme within it. There's no urgency and what kept me reading was the beautiful writing. While not in verse it had a similar feel to it.
It has a theme of the MC being in a religious family and feeling those pressures to always be good.
If I were to complain it would be that I wish it had expanded on this more. But that is largely because of my own beliefs and way I was raised. I do not bel
Jan 06, 2018 added it
Ughhhh. I wanted to like this. And I feel bad for not liking it. I feel like it was so black and I loved that! I relate to Taja a lot. I just didn’t really care about her enough. I skipped through most of the book. I was just bored. I feel bad.
Cori Reed
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it
A beautiful little book told in vignettes, I enjoyed reading this one.
Booksandchinooks (Laurie)
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book from Harper Collins Canada for an honest review. This story is told by Taja, from middle grade to high school, as she searches for who she really is and what she really believes. The book seems to take place around the early 90’s but we are never told this. Taja’s African American parents live their life around their faith and want to instil that in their children’s lives. The parents do have a different set of rules for their son vs their daughters which caus ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
The rating applies to the book as a whole, if I were to pick it apart I would probably rate it lower which is a shame.

I liked the sort of "Boyhood" layout of the story as we follow Tara from girlhood to the brink of adulthood. It was also nice to have a novel feature faith/religion without the normal dismissiveness you read about, or that obvious character rebellion/disbandment of it without any contextual layers.

The writing style for some reason I couldn't quite connect with. No clue why - it
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This novel addresses the challenges of exploring sexuality while growing up in a strictly religious family. Additionally, it covers the struggles between belonging to an organized religion and finding one's own understanding of spirituality. As you can see, these are some heavy topics for a young adult novel, but the author handles them in a way that is honest and direct. The language is a cut above typical young adult fiction, so there were many passages that I felt would be worth exploring in ...more
"I’m busy noticing I’m alive."

I think this book went over my head at the speed of freaking light. ⚡️
Oh, what’s that?? This whole book, it seems.

Reason for that I think is the writing style.
Maybe I’m just too dumb but there was something off regarding the writing style. I can’t pinpoint the reasons why it didn’t resonate with me but it…just…didn’t. 🤷🏻‍♀️
Because of it, I felt detached from the characters and their adventures; everything was slightly confusing and foggy. It was lik
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
The plot did not exactly interest me in the beginning, but it is definitely compelling to watch the character develop and grow. The author did not just state the age of the character, but you can find clues of which stage win life she is at. Cool book, I would recommend it to people who would like to witness an intense change of a character throughout a book.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Imagine yourself as a young girl, unsure of herself, and trying desperately to find your footing in a world where the messages are mixed (at best), and wrong (at worst). That’s where we first meet Taja.

As she navigates the social spectrum—from middle and on through high school—she’s forced to answer questions about who she wants to be: her parents expect her to remain steeped in God. He is to be her eternal guide where all decisions of the heart, head, and body are concerned.

Unfortunately for
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is a character-driven story about a black girl growing up and dealing with all the problems adolescence offers (and we all know it's a lot of problems). I have to admit that the main reason I picked this up was because of the cover, I think it's so BEAUTIFUL. However, the writing just wasn't for me. I really appreciate some little moments of it, but I got to like page 120 and all the side characters were flat and underdeveloped. Page 120, and I had NO idea as to how any of the characte ...more
This book, set in a recognizable past (my guess is the 90s based on the name checks on things), follows Taja Brown from her middle school through the end of her high school days. It's told through vignettes, in a way that is really unique and engaging, with gorgeous prose to accompany the story.

Readers looking for stories about religious teens, coming of age as a black girl, and/or the tensions and challenges that can exist between teens and their parents will enjoy this a lot.

Totally appropri
Nakesha Brown
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teens, african-american teen girls, religious girls
I loved this book! The writing style was so lyrical, poetic. It drew me in from the first sentence. At times it felt a bit disjointed, like snippets of Taja's life as opposed to a full story but I still enjoyed it. I related so much to Taja. I grew up in a household where church and religion was very important. Navigating growing up, hormones and religious expectations really hit home for me. It was the best coming of age story I read in a long time. ...more
Beautifully written. A girl growing up in this world and challenges she faces and things that we all go through. Enjoyed this book 📖
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was ok

Calling My Name truly attracted me at the bookstore because of its' beautiful cover though I knew not to judge a book by its' cover so I looked over the premise. The premise itself was interesting but questionable at first. I loved seeing a coming of age story about a black teen on the store shelves, but can a girl's middle and high school years be thoroughly explored in fifty-three chapters. Eh, I was willing to take the risk, but the answer is a firm no!

This a character-driven story, so I wa

Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This story touched me a lot more than I thought it would. It's a beautifully flowing coming of age story about Taja, a black girl from a religious family. It's written in an almost poetic way, which made the audio book really pleasant.

I loved how the book encompasses so much time, as we are with Taja whilst she grows from middle grade to high school graduation, and with that the topics of the story.
It's in first person perspective, which I thought was really fitting for this book, and was an i
I really wanted to like this book, but the writing was so difficult to get into.
Calling My Name is lovely, literary, and lyrical. Liara Timani has crafted an elegant piece of prose that reads like poetry. It is a true coming of age story, beginning when Taja is in grade school and ending just before she heads off to college. In it, Taja questions much and struggles to find the answers that sit right in her heart. What makes this story different is the way it is told. Timani covers about ten years of Taja’s life in under 300 pages. To do that well, she had to make a decision ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-author
a poetic coming of age story that portrays emotions in a viscerally engaging way. Taja's adolescent confusion, curiosity, and conflicted feelings about sex and her religion are captured very well.
that all said, there were some really cringe-worthy microaggressions here and there that put me off
TWs: body/fat-shaming, ableism, transmisia, slut-shaming/misogyny, racism
-the most prevalent microaggressions were body/fat-shaming, and it was kind of hypocritical coming from someone who was insecure abo
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bipoc, 2017, bw, 59, bhm, tops, pbrecs
I really liked this (obviously, hence the rating). It's a coming of age told in episodic vignettes, and it really doesn't have an overarching plot throughline except that it follows Taja from middle to high school. Tamani really explores the conflict between loving God while also bumping up against the rampant sexism and misogyny of the church (#notallchurches). My heart really ached for Taja during specific points, especially as she got closer to Andre.

The only thing I wanted that the story did
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, ya-fiction
I received an Advanced Reader Copy at Book Expo 2017.

A beautifully written coming of age story. We follow Taja from middle grade up through high school graduation. We experience all her firsts. We follow her as she tries to figure out who she is and what she believes. I especially loved her spiritual journey as she discovers how she wants to experience God, not just in church but in and around her.

Highly recommend.
Morelia (Strandedinbooks)
Set in Houston, TX? Where I was born and raised? YES PLEASE!
Michelle Leonard
Overall, I enjoyed this book but found certain parts to be overly detailed or slow. I liked some of the cultural references as they reminded me of my own childhood.
Feb 04, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Trigger Warnings: Religious abuse, bullying, toxic masculinity, sexism, misogyny, cancer and death of a grandparent, racism, prejudice, school fights, slut shaming, sexual activity, gaslighting and manipulation
Rachel Rooney
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

This book took me a while to get into. In fact I almost abandoned it about a third of the way through. It is about an African-American teen from a very religious family who is questioning God and trying to figure out who she is. The writing is beautiful with lots of short chapters that are almost vignettes.
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Liara Tamani lives in Houston, Texas. She holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College. She is the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, which was a 2018 PEN America Literary Award Finalist and a 2018 SCBWI Golden Kite Finalist, and All the Things We Never Knew.


1. Her friends call her Lili.

2. She believes that love is the most powerful th

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